NJTS V3 – Bring it on!

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Opinion, Racing, Tips & Hints
Tags: , , , ,

Now in its third year, the National Junior Track Series (NJTS) looks set to again step up in professionalism.  This ground-breaking series offers under-15 and under-17 riders the chance to compete against each other over four rounds in four months.  In the past, these riders only ever met at the National Championships.  With the winners of the under-17 categories from year-one already gold medallists at the most recent Junior Worlds (Jack Edwards and Lauren Perry), the series provides the perfect launchpad/talent ID for juniors.

Lauren Perry - winner of the NJTS in 11/12 takes gold in the IP at the recent Junior Worlds.

Lauren Perry – winner of the NJTS in 11/12 takes gold in the IP at the recent Junior Worlds.

  • The schedule continues to offer a good balance of sprint and enduro – although probably still slightly weighted to the advantage of the sprinter.  Having said that, the endurance races – the elimination and the points races – are true endurance races with specialist sprinters unlikely to be able to make it to the finish.
  • Allocation of points for the first-four place-getters in A-finals remain the same as last year – with 6, 4, 3, 2 points on offer.  What has changed is that riders making A-finals will earn an additional point.  This will have the effect of offering emerging riders the opportunity to put a gap between them and all the other riders who get a single point for competing.  Up until this year, there were maybe 8-12 riders scoring points, then a traffic jam of riders who all scored one-point per event for competing with no way of differentiating those that made A-finals and those that didn’t.
  • All four events will be held over two-days… last year the first three rounds were all double-dayers, with the final two being single-day events.  So this year, we lose an event, but don’t lose any competition days.  The double-day events are pretty full-on, especially if you’re making finals. You could have up to nine or 10 rides per day if you race all events and make all the finals!  That is harder work than any track event the kids are ever likely to race so it is a bit of a smashfest.  If you’re not making finals, you should get at least four hard rides per day.

The series is subsidised by Cycling Australia with teams receiving between $2000 and $6500 if they attend all four rounds to assist with travel and accommodation.  If teams can secure some additional sponsorship and book airfares and accommodation well ahead a rider can do every round for not much more than $1000 each.

Quality fields mean close racing at the NJTS.

Quality fields mean close racing at the NJTS.

While there is no prize money on offer, there is very definitely bragging rights plus the honour in representing your club or region.  Our club’s experience has seen riders quite new to the sport participate at the event and move ahead in leaps and bounds.  Our club has gone from struggling to fill one team for all rounds to being over-subscribed this year.  I believe this has been due to the kids involved having such a great ‘team’ experience and sharing this with others when they got back.

Sydney will see 165 starters making for two big days of racing.

Sydney will see 165 starters making for two big days of racing.

Some advice for ensuring a smooth experience:

  • Fill the managers role with active and capable person with the time to deliver a quality outcome.
  • Ensure that those who fill the other team support roles understand their roles and responsibilities and that they’re not just there to be parents to their kids.
  • Teach the kids to pack and unpack and build their bikes prior to the first trip – this is all part of the learning.
  • Take enough good food for the travel as airports and road houses generally only offer fast food.
  • If one of your kids isn’t getting enough rides let the event director know rather than bitching about it – in my experience the organises will do everything they can to give kids more rides.
  • Be organised on the day – the Team Manager needs help to round-up the kids and ensure they’re ready for their next race.
  • If one of your kids is sick – tell them not to do the event.  These are very intense race days and not suited to unwell riders.
  • Set realistic goals… finishing top-10, making a final, not getting dropped.  The kids racing this are the best kids in the country so if you’re kids aren’t, they will likely not get too many results.  Make it about small gains race-to-race, event-to-event.

Rigtho, the NJTS website is here and to give you an idea about what to expect, here’s a photobook ‘SweatnGears’ put together from last year’s Sydney event.

Things kick off in Sydney in just a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately entries have closed – due to the demand (165 starters!) – so keep your eyes out for entries to the Melbourne (November), Launceston (December) and Adelaide (January) rounds.

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